Thursday, October 5, 2017

Visit My NEW Blog!

Okay, big news. I have started a new blogIt's hard to believe that it's been a decade since I started Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing! Starting my independent pattern line Charm Patterns meant I needed a new online home, and I debated a lot about what to do with this blog. In the end, the idea of a fresh start was really appealing. So much has changed in my life in the past ten years, and a beautiful new blog seems like just the thing to symbolize that. (I'm like a butterfly or something!) There will eventually be an archived spot there where you can visit all those posts from the past ten years, and is still here online for you to read. 

But for now I'm excited to fill up my new space with beautiful sewing, like the new Rita Blouse Sew-Along.  I hope you'll visit my new home

Friday, June 2, 2017

Australia Trip Nostalgia

I've been back from my whirlwind Australia trip for two weeks, and it was so fabulous that I feel the need to sit down and write a little recap. Overall, I just have to say how welcome I felt by everyone I met and worked with. Am I really famous in Australia, or are you all just really nice? Everywhere I went, I was greeted with excitement and even little presents and snacks and flowers! So sweet. 

The main reason for the trip was that Spotlight Stores had just released a new Gertie by Gretchen Hirsch fabric collection. I have Spotlight and Fabric Traditions to thank for making the trip happen, and I couldn't be more grateful.

I started my trip in Brisbane! I stayed at Needlefruit Sewing Lounge with owner Kristina and her wonderful husband and cats. We all hit it off beautifully and it was like staying with old friends.
Me and Kristina of Needlefruit in Brisbane
In true Gertie fashion, the first picture I took in Australia was of their cat.

They took me to see koalas and kangaroos and wallabies almost immediately! Here's me with a wallaby, looking both thrilled and jet lagged.

The next day, I started my tour of Spotlight appearances, visiting stores in Everton Park and Mount Gravatt. Love the displays! We had a lovely crowd in both stores. For these events, I brought a suitcase full of dresses and did a short presentation on the fabrics and construction techniques involved in each of them, followed by a Q&A session and book signings. I got to meet all sorts of lovely sewists.

Next I taught my two day workshop at Needlefruit to a wonderful group of women. For these workshops, I have everyone make the basic bodice and a skirt of their choice from Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book. There's a strong focus on fit, and everyone leaves with a new dress and a custom-fit basic bodice pattern.

The last evening, they threw me a special party at Needlefruit! I met all sorts of ladies, and did a dress presentation and long Q&A. It was super festive. Vicki wrote the nicest recap of the evening here.

The next day, I flew to Melbourne and immediately drove to Spotlight Bayswater to do a Meet & Greet. (Hey, driving on the other side of the road is an adventure!) The Bayswater event was packed, with a long line for book signings. And dogs!

Everyone wore Gertie dresses and it's the best thing ever

Book signing line!

I taught my two day workshop next at Spotlight Bayswater.

I also was thrown a fabulous party right in Melbourne at Thread Den! Everyone dressed up in Gertie fabrics and patterns and made me feel like a princess in a room full of princesses.

After a day off in lovely Melbourne, I flew to Sydney. Guys, I loved Sydney SO much. It's just beautiful.

I did two Spotlight Store appearances at Lidcombe and Castle Hill. I started to get goofy with the mannequins and signage at this point.

I was taken to a lovely dinner by Brendon and Tessa of Spotlight, who took care of me for the entire trip. We went down to the harbour at night and I've never seen anything so pretty.

Thank you, Brendon and Tessa!

I had some down time to explore Sydney, and two of my favorite things were trying on vintage dresses at Faster Pussycat in Newtown and going dancing at Miss Peaches (Thursday nights are rockabilly nights!). Seriously, did I mention I loved Sydney? I didn't want to leave!

Go to this! 
I finished my trip at Bobbin & Ink, where we did a evening party followed by a two-day workshop.

Giving a talk at Bobbin & Ink
Teaching at Bobbin & Ink

Donna cutting her Gertie fabric
Well, that's the short version. All I can tell you is that it was magical, and I can't wait to come back. (I'm thinking about a November trip!) Thank you to everyone who helped organize, hosted me, welcomed me, and generally made me feel like the luckiest girl with the best job in the world. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Introducing Charm Patterns by Gertie

In case you've missed it on my other social media, I have big news! I launched a Kickstarter campaign for a line of independent sewing patterns called Charm Patterns by Gertie. I'm thrilled to say that I'm over double my goal, but there's still time to contribute and pre-order your patterns. Any additional funds I receive at this point will help me dream a bit bigger about this line.

Please visit the Kickstarter campaign page to learn more!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Announcing My Australia Trip!

Readers, this trip has been in the works for a while and now it's coming up FAST! In just two weeks I will be flying to the land down under to promote my new fabric line at Spotlight Stores and to do a series of dressmaking workshops.

Here is a breakdown of my workshops and other events! (Please note that some details still need to be posted in places; I will update as necessary.)


Tuesday, May 2nd, 11:00 am to 1:00 pm: Everton Park Spotlight Store, Meet & Greet and Book Signing.

Tuesday May 2nd, 3:30 to 5:30 pm: Mount Gravatt Spotlight Store, Meet & Greet and Book Signing.

SOLD OUT! Wednesday and Thursday, May 3rd and 4th: Two Day Dressmaking Workshop at Needlefruit. Please click here for all the details and to register! Two full fabulous days of fitting and sewing technique.

Thursday, May 4th, 6:00 to 8:00 pm. Drinks and Meet & Greet at Needlefruit. Register here.


Friday, May 5th, 6:00 to 7:00 pm: Bayswater Spotlight StoreMeet & Greet and Book Signing.

SOLD OUT! Saturday and Sunday, May 6th and 7th, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm: Two Day Dressmaking Workshop at Bayswater Spotlight Store. Two full fabulous days of fitting and sewing technique. Registration details will be posted in the next day or so. In the meantime, you can email me at if you are interested in this class; I will be handling the registrations.

Saturday, May 6th, 7:00 to 9:00 pm: Thread Den Q&A Evening. A fun evening of drinks, "Sew & Tell" and, chatting about my dresses, sewing patterns, books, blog and more!


Wednesday May 10th, 11:00 am to 1:00 pm: Lidcombe Spotlight Store, Meet and Greet and Book Signing

Thursday May 11th, 11:00 am to 1:00 pm: Castle Hill Spotlight Store, Meet and Greet and Book Signing

Friday, May 12th, 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm: Q&A Evening at Bobbin and Ink. The event will be live on this page at 10 am 4/19.

SOLD OUT! Saturday and Sunday, May 13th and 14th, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm: Two Day Dressmaking Workshop at Bobbin and Ink. Please contact the store for details.

I look forward to meeting all of you!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Melbourne Two-Day Dressmaking Course

Update: Oh my goodness, the class filled up in minutes! Please stay tuned for details of the Spotlight competition (there will be two spaces given away in this class) and see this post for all my other Melbourne events. I want to meet you all! xoxo

I'm thrilled to announce that I will be offering a two-day dressmaking course in Melbourne, Australia, at the Bayswater Spotlight Store. Spotlight is sponsoring this class at a special rate and space is extremely limited. 

Here are the details!

When: Saturday and Sunday, May 6th and 7th. 9:00 am to 4:00 pm each day.

Where: Bayswater Spotlight Store

Cost: $240 AUD. You will be invoiced via Paypal once your registration is accepted; please make your payment within 24 hours to keep your space. 

Class Description: Using Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book, students will learn fit a basic bodice pattern and walk away with your own custom variation of a sleeveless dress. There will be a strong focus on fit, with everyone being custom-fitted by me. You will spend the rest of the class learning my tested techniques for sewing and pressing darts, creating perfectly neat all-in-one facing, a vintage-style lapped zipper and much more.
Your finished dress will come together using a choice of the basic jewel neckline, V-neck, or elegant narrow shoulder. Students will choose to pair with this with one of three skirts (A-Line, Three-Quarter, or Pencil) to make the dress your own.
Skill Level: This class is not suited to absolute beginners. It is for people who are confident with using their sewing machine, reading patterns, and who have completed several garments before, including at least one dress. 
Supplies: Machines are provided by Spotlight. Students must bring their own copy of Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book (copies will be available to buy on the first day of the workshop), basic sewing supplies, fabric, thread, interfacing, and a zipper. (Detailed supply list will be provided upon registration.)
How to Register
Fill out the form hereOnce your registration is accepted, I will send you a Paypal invoice via email. Please pay the invoice within 24 hours, or your space will be given to the next person on the list. 
Space is very limited, but please keep in mind that I will be doing other events in Melbourne. Also, Spotlight will be a running a competition for two more spaces in this workshop (details to come). So if you miss out, you may still win a spot!

I hope to meet you soon!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

B6453 Sew Along: Hemming the Dress!

This is the last post on sewing your dress, everyone! Time to hem. 

Let's start with View A. Press the entire hem to the inside of the dress 3/4".
Then turn in the upper edge of the fabric by 1/4" and press. I had serged my fabric so I had an easy edge to turn in (I confess this was sort of unintentional; sometimes I serge the lower edge of the fabric as a matter of course before I construct the seams). Another option would have been to leave the serged edge exposed on the inside, without doing another fold.
Stitch along the edge of the hem fold all around the dress. I like to use my edgestitch foot for this.
Give the whole thing a final press and you're done!

For view B, start by finishing the lower edges of the slit opening. Turn the 1" slit to the outside of the dress and pin at the lower edge.
Stitch along the lower edge, using a 1" seam allowance.
Trim diagonally into the corner fold to reduce bulk.
Turn the corner right side out and press. Turn up and press the rest of the hem 1" to the inside of the dress.
 Turn the upper raw edge of the hem in 1/4". You can kind of open out the hem and use the tip of your iron to do this.

Turn the entire hem to the inside of the dress again (it's now 3/4" wide). Pin in place.

Edge stitch along the fold of the hem all the way around. Done!

Two finished dresses!
I hope you all have enjoyed the sew along! The Facebook Group is still growing like crazy and is very active. I've loved doing this one. I'll be running more in the future, and have some exciting news about what's next, so please stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

B6453 Sew Along: The Facing

We're so close! Today I'm going to show you the steps for attaching the facing, so you'll finally have a nice finished neckline edge.

Start by ironing your interfacing on to your facing pieces. I make sure to always use a press cloth and a spritz of water for this step, and hold the iron in place until the glue fuses (don't rub!).

Next, sew the front facing to the back facings at the side seams. The pieces look a little funny, so just remember that there are notches to help you match everything up. You can always refer back to your tissue pattern pieces if you're unsure as well. 

Press the seams open. 

Finish the lower edges of the facing unit by serging, pinking, or zigzagging. 

With the interfaced side up, turn in the left back seam allowance 3/4". This is where the overlap side of the zipper goes. 

Next, I highly recommend drawing in your stitching lines on your facing at the strap connection points. These points are a little tricky to sew because of all the pivoting. I used a mechanical pencil and my clear gridded ruler to draw in the stitching lines, which are 5/8" from the edges. 

With the straps down and out of the way, pin the facing unit to the dress all the way around the neckline, taking special care that the straps are positioned between the pivot points you marked in above. I put a pin on either side of the strap to keep it from slipping, like so:
Continue to pin all the way around the neckline, matching underarms and notches. 
At the overlap side of your zipper, the overlap will extend 1/8" past the facing.
And remember that you turned in the upper edge so they won't match there either. They'll look like this.
On the underlap side, the facing will extend 5/8" past the underlap.
Stitch all the way around the neckline, carefully pivoting at the strap connection points. You'll need to keep repositioning the straps as you stitch. Go slowly!
Check your stitching at these points; it's still easy to correct things if anything looks funny. 

I want you to promise me that you will now take lots of time and care trimming, grading, and clipping your seam allowances! Start by cutting diagonally across any corners. 

Then trim the facing seam allowances down to about 1/8", and the dress seam allowances to about 1/4" (this is called grading and it reduces bulk in your seam allowances.)

Clip carefully into your seam allowances around the neckline and armhole curves. These clips should be about 1/2" apart. They will help your curves lay flat rather than bunching. 

Pull the straps to the outside. 

Next, you'll understitch your facings. Stitch about 1/8" away from the seamline on the facing, keeping the seam allowances pressed toward the facing so you catch them in your stitching. Keep the seam very smooth and taut as you sew. 
The straps are going to interfere with your understitching because it gets too tight and small to continue. Go as far as you can near each strap, and then back stitch and break your stitching. Start again on the other side of the strap. 

Press your facing to the inside. Doesn't it look lovely! 

You'll need to pin the facings in place on either side of the zipper tape and then slip stitch them in place. 

At the underarm seams, tack the facings in place used a doubled up strand of thread and taking several stitches on top of each other. 

All that's left now is the hem!
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